In continuing my Mediterranean fusion expedition, I incorporated lupini beans into an Indian masala. These beans are beautiful, large legumes that look like they would bring a firm texture to any recipe.
Lupini beans have been popular snacks around the Mediterranean for two thousand years. They are most commonly eaten as a snack or condiment where they are soaked in brine and eaten with olives and pickles. Lupini beans are extremely bitter and toxic if cooked for an hour or so and eaten right away. To remove the toxin and bitter flavor, the beans must be soaked in water for 5 to 14 days, changing the water 3 or 4 times every day. After a week of soaking, start testing them daily to see if the bitterness had disappeared. It took 10 days for the bitterness to leave my beans.
Once the bitterness is gone, lupini beans are very healthy to eat. They are unusually high in protein and fiber while low in carbohydrates. The texture of these beans is firm and meaty, and they retain their shape after cooking.
Since lupini beans are most often canned or pickled, I thought about roasting them in a spice mixture to eat as a snack, just like I do with chickpeas. After one trial experiment, I knew this was a bad idea. Lupini beans do not crisp up like chickpeas. I had to look for another approach – this time a more traditional Indian one.
My Lupini Masala combines favorite ingredients and spices into one healthy dish. After the lupine beans are cooked, I remove the skin. This is a fairly easy task since the beans are so large. Holding the bean in one hand, find the round hole on one side. Very close to it is a tiny slit. Using your fingernail pierce the skin between the to openings then simply pinch the opposite side of the bean to pop the bean out from the skin.
The beans are cooked in a special paste made from caramelized onion, ginger, garlic, chiles and tomatoes. The tomatoes break down as they cook to create a rich sauce for the beans. I let everything simmer until the sauce becomes thick and the flavors are absorbed into the ingredients.
After removing the Lupini Masala from the stove I season it with a bit of vinegar and sugar, two trademarks of Goan cuisine, to bring the flavors together. Lupini Masala can be served as a side dish or as a main dish for a vegetarian meal along with fresh naans or chapatis.